When did Jessie Duarte hacking start? - Neeshan Balton says he too received strange messages

2019-04-04 18:39
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte is seen during the party's provincial general council #ANCLimpopoPGC in Polokwane (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte is seen during the party's provincial general council #ANCLimpopoPGC in Polokwane (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

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Executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Balton, wants to know when the hacking of Jessie Duarte's communication devices began because he too once received strange messages.

Balton says he had been attacked by the ANC deputy secretary general – or at least by someone who used her cellphone number and email address.

In a statement written in his personal capacity this week, Balton said he had received messages which varied from aggressive to respectful, purportedly from Duarte, in February 2019 and the latter part of 2018.

He said it was a great relief to hear that Duarte's communications devices had been hacked and that messages and emails received from her should be ignored. 

Asked for a response to Balton's statement, Duarte said: "No comment".

Last month, the ANC warned that communication from Duarte should be disregarded because hackers had interfered with her emails and messages.

"I had been amongst those who had received strange emails and SMSes from Ms Duarte's number and email address in recent times," Balton said. "What worried me, however, is that similar messages, supposedly from Ms Duarte's devices, were received well before the announcement of the hacking on 28 March 2019."

Balton said that in an email on February 28, someone purporting to be Duarte, launched into a tirade claiming that he had denied a request that she be allowed to address the Kathrada Foundation's Board to "explain some of the things you think I am guilty of".

"At no time was I even aware of such a request, neither did the Kathrada Foundation ever accuse Ms Duarte of being guilty of anything," said Balton. 

In the same email, former Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan, who is also a board member of the foundation, is criticised for her testimony at the Zondo commission into state capture.

"This email was followed by a short exchange of messages on 28 March 2019, which marked the 2nd death anniversary of [Ahmed] Kathrada's passing... The person behind the message insists that I have called her – ‘Ms Duarte’ - corrupt – which is untrue."

Balton continues: "Upon me asking for proof of this assertion, the person hints at taking up the matter legally. Following this incident, after being unable to reach Ms Duarte telephonically, I called another individual, who is mentioned in the exchange, to express that I would not tolerate such bullying, with a request that this be conveyed to Ms Duarte."

READ: ANC says it had 'cordial and robust' meetings with eNCA and editors' body after Luthuli House spat

Balton said that he then received a strange message forwarded to him, written in Duarte's name, but it was not directly from her number. 

"This message viciously attacks Barbara Hogan and Cheryl Carolus in almost the same vein as the statement from the ANC Women's League following comments that the two stalwarts had made at the Kathrada death anniversary event."

The statement that Balton referred to was about former president Jacob Zuma not being welcome at the Kathrada funeral.

"Now it is true that I conveyed Mr Kathrada's wishes and that of his family to Ms Duarte and Mr Mantashe at the time of Mr Kathrada's passing, and they did not challenge it at all. They instead undertook to inform then President Zuma of the matter."

News24 reported in March that Duarte's emails and messaging systems were hacked, according to the ANC.

In a statement, the party said that a WhatsApp text purporting to be from its deputy secretary general had also been circulated.

"It has come to the attention of the African National Congress (ANC) that the communication devices of the deputy secretary general, Cde Jessie Duarte, have been hacked. Her emails and messaging systems have been targeted and interfered with," reads the statement.

The party said Duarte would "lay criminal charges with the South African Police Service and request an investigation".

Balton said: "What’s troubling, is that I am not the only person to whom similarly disturbing messages have been sent over time. I know of other individuals, and WhatsApp groups, that received concerning messages purportedly from Ms Duarte's number... One hopes that the ANC can clarify whether or not Ms Duarte's devices and accounts were being tampered with before this latest incident, or, are previous messages that were sent truly reflective of the type of character that holds of the title of deputy secretary general of the oldest liberation movement in Africa?"

Read more on:    anc  |  neeshan balton  |  jessie duarte
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